Unrest hits central Athens

A group of some 80 suspected anarchists went on the rampage through central Athens yesterday and attacked cars, shops and ministers’ offices while chanting slogans in solidarity with protesting prison inmates. The rampage took place at around 4.30 p.m. as order was being restored to most Greek prisons after a day of protests. The self-styled anarchists threw rocks and red paint at a building in Exarchia where Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras has a legal office, set fire to a police car and threw rocks at the political office of Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis. The assailants also hurled rocks at the guard outside PASOK’s headquarters on Harilaou Trikoupi Street and damaged a branch of Emporiki bank and at least two other cars. The anarchists clashed with riot police near Kaningos Square but then disappeared into the streets of Exarchia, a popular anarchist hangout, before any arrests were made. Meanwhile, riot police were called to the high-security Malandrino Prison in central Greece as some 100 convicts refused to descend from the prison roof. The prisoners at Malandrino, who began their protest on Monday, set fire to mattresses and bedsheets on the prison roof as they continued to demand better conditions and shorter sentences. The inmates refuse to return to their cells or to eat meals. Some were armed with rocks and metal bars. The riot police circled the jail but did not move in on the prison as authorities attempted to resolve the standoff peacefully. Prison guards told Kathimerini that there are no protective bars around the roof and they fear that a clash between prisoners and police could result in casualties. Disturbances at another nine prisons were reported on Tuesday but the only institution still facing unrest yesterday was Alicarnassos Prison near Iraklion, Crete. Some 60 prisoners climbed onto the roof and demanded that overcrowding at the jail be eased. Authorities assured them that about 30 inmates would be moved to another jail, which prompted the demonstrators to end their protest at about 6 p.m.

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